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VIDEO: Does the Simpsons’ Apu Need a Do-Over?

Comedian Hari Kondabulu gave millions of Indians around the world a voice by tackling the subject of Apu from the multi-decade hit cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons.  He decided to make a documentary film called “The Problem with Apu” on TruTV which asks some fundamental questions about Apu and why he has to be the way he is.  As we all know, Apu is a minstrel with a fake accent and his appearances comprise an unending parade of unforgivably unfunny stereotypes of an Indian convenience store owner in any town USA.

So ingrained is Apu on the world’s consciousness that when I went to a remote region of Brazil where they never see any Indians, many of the locals nicknamed me Apu for the week.  This is literally the first thing that people who have never met Indians think about when they see an Indian.

The documentary is worth watching, whether you believe Indians are being way too sensitive about Apu, or you are outraged by the minstrel portrayal of Indians by white voice actor, Hank Azaria.  Above you will see the TruTV trailer.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

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Broken Black-White Relations: An Indian-American Perspective

FergusonPeriodically in American life, prominent tragedies such as the violent deaths of African-Americans like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, or Eric Garner cause a firestorm of international media attention and bring America’s truths about race relations to the forefront for all to see in its naked ugliness.  It reminds us that racism is alive.  These events, along with the response of the judicial system, the protests, and the rioting that follow show that many tensions are simmering constantly below the surface, and can easily boil over once that single match lights this powder keg of race relations that is the United States of America even in the year 2014.

Indian-Americans like myself have a front row seat to all of it, but we are still on the sidelines, and we largely come from a very different world.  Famously, some of us are either “black-identified” or “white-identified,” more likely the latter, which means siding more with one race or the other due to cultural, political, or identity affinity, often a product of where one grew up.  I am non-aligned on this journey: I truck with both races, have a deep connection with both, and do not side with either.  I am just as comfortable in a group of all whites or all blacks as I am with a group of Indians (ironically sometimes more so, LOL).  I believe this gives me the credibility to be a uniquely neutral commentator on the black-white condition. Read the rest of this entry

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